Are Mushrooms Considered Protein?
Not an animal, and not a vegetable, the mushroom populates its own empire, the fungi kingdom. Mushrooms are a popular culinary treat around the world. In many countries, it is normal to eat a wide variety of mushrooms, not just for their unique and delicious flavor, but also for nutrition. How nutritious are mushrooms, really, though?
Do Mushrooms Have Significant Amounts of Protein?
The protein content of mushrooms varies by type, however, they all contain some amount of it. Of all the mushrooms analyzed, oyster mushrooms show the highest protein content, though the common white button mushroom isn’t far behind.
The amounts of protein may look small when compared to a serving of beef or chicken. However, with a little more investigation, the value of the mushroom is quickly demonstrated.
Protein Content of Various Mushrooms, per ½ cup (cooked) serving
(100 grams or 3.55 ounces)
- Oyster Mushrooms – 3.3 grams
- Morel Mushrooms – 3.2 grams
- White Button Mushrooms – 3.1 grams
- Enoki Mushrooms – 2.7 grams
- Crimini Mushrooms – 2.5 grams
- Lion’s Mane – 2.4 grams
- Shiitake Mushrooms – 2.2 grams
To understand the importance of mushroom protein, it needs to be analyzed as a whole. Mushrooms are a low-calorie and low-fat food, both important attributes. For comparison:
White Button Mushroom vs. Chicken Breast
- A 100-gram serving of chicken breast provides approximately 110 calories and 23.1 grams of protein.
- A serving of white button mushrooms provides 22 calories and 3.2 grams of protein.
- A comparison based on calories, though, demonstrates the benefit of mushrooms. Per calorie, the chicken breast is higher in protein but not by much. A 110-calorie serving of white button mushrooms provides 15.5 grams of protein.
- The same 100-gram serving of chicken breast contains 9.3 grams of fat, 64mg of cholesterol, and 0 grams of fiber. A 100-gram serving of white button mushrooms contains 0.3 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, and 1 gram of fiber.
For folks who need to monitor their fat and cholesterol intake, mushrooms are an excellent alternative. Also, the majority of Americans do not get enough fiber in their diets, making mushrooms a beneficial addition.
While it wouldn’t make sense only to consume mushrooms as a source of protein, they do add value when added to a meal. Cooked together with white beans, tofu, lentils, or chickpeas, it isn’t difficult at all to meet daily protein recommendations.
How Else Are Mushrooms Nutritious?
Mushrooms, with the exception of enoki and crimini, provide the only non-meat source of vitamin D. Vitamin D reduces inflammation, improves the immune system, and builds stronger bones. For vegetarians and vegans, a non-animal source of vitamin D is especially important, and mushrooms provide it.
Besides protein and vitamin D, mushrooms also contain B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin, selenium, potassium, and fiber. Selenium, in particular, is important because it supports healthy function of the immune system.
The Health Benefits of Specific Mushrooms
- The vitamin D content in Maitake mushrooms is 100x the requirement per calorie.
- The vitamin C content of white button mushrooms is 2.5x the requirement per calorie.
- Portabello, crimini, and white button mushrooms provide small amounts of vitamin B12, an essential nutrient commonly only found in animal products.
- The iron content of morel mushrooms is 40x the requirement per calorie.
While mushrooms are not able to completely fill protein needs, they still play an important role in providing adequate nutrition around the world. In combination with other protein sources, they provide a healthy alternative. The nutrients in addition to the protein are critical for good health. Specifically, the low-fat, cholesterol-free nature of mushrooms makes them an invaluable addition to any diet.
Livestrong: Protein Content in Mushrooms vs. Meat, (https://www.livestrong.com/article/556190-protein-content-in-mushrooms-vs-meat/)
The Mushroom Council: Nutrition Benefits, https://www.mushroomcouncil.com/nutrition-benefits/
Asim Shah Bacha, Syed & Ali, Shujaat & Li, Ye & Rehman, Hamid & Farooq, Saqib & Mushtaq, Aamar & Wahocho, Safdar. (2018). Lion’s mane mushroom; new addition to food and natural bounty for human wellness: A review. 10.12692/ijb/13.4.396-402.